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Jewish Living and Learning Staff

Rabbi Jill Levy
Director

Rabbi Jill LevyRabbi Levy grew up at the J after her family moved to Houston as a young child. She graduated from Bellaire High School in 1994 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University.

Rabbi Levy worked two years for the Jewish Federation of Atlanta as a coordinator of post birthright Israel programming and spent a number of summers on the staff of Camp Ramah in Georgia. While in Rabbinical school, Rabbi Levy was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and served as student rabbi in several different congregations.  

In addition, she completed a summer of clinical pastoral education (CPE) at St. Luke’s and Texas Children’s Hospitals in Houston.  She was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary. Levy most recently served as the Director of Congregational Learning at the Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Synagogue in Seattle, Washington. 

Levy and her husband, Matt, have two daughters, Nava and Miri, who both attend the Bertha Alyce Early Childhood School.

“It is an honor to get to return to a community that was so formative in my early Jewish life. I grew up with JCC summer camp, aquatics, and after school programs,” said Levy. “I believe that the Jewish foundations I received here as a child has carried throughout my life. I am excited to have an opportunity to give back to the institution and to get to learn and grow with it in new and exciting ways.” 
 

Rabbi Samantha Safran
Assistant Director

Rabbi Samantha SafranRabbi Samantha holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters as well as her rabbinical title from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) in Philadelphia. Originally from Great Neck, New York, she studied classics and philosophy at Colgate University and worked in film preservation before migrating to the Jewish professional world and, eventually, to rabbinical school.

During her time at RRC she served as a Jewish advisor on several college campuses, as well as a hospital chaplain, a community organizer, and a congregational rabbinic intern. In her spare time she enjoys listening to live music, reading the New Yorker magazine, watching classic movies, spending time outdoors, and discussing the merits of healthy eating with anyone who will listen. Rabbi Samantha moved to Houston in August, 2012, with her husband, Sacha, and their daughter, Naya. 
 
"I believe that Judaism speaks to all aspects of life, from health, fitness and food, to ethics, philosophy and art. As a rabbi, I am committed to helping members expand their understanding of what it means to live Jewishly and purposefully, both at home and in community."

Nomi Barancik
Family Program Coordinator

Nomi BarancikNomi is the Sabra of the Jewish Living & Learning department. She was born in Jerusalem, moved to Toronto with her family when she was a baby, and returned to Jerusalem when she was eight years old.

She completed her B.A. in social studies through the Open University as well as studied art and theatre in various Israeli institutions.

Nomi enjoys supporting the Melton program, teaching conversational Hebrew and especially creating fun and engaging Jewish programming for families.